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Friday, March 11, 2011


Our guest today at Book Club Friday is multi-published mystery author Carola Dunn. Carola writes the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, set in 1920s England, and the Cornish mysteries set in the 1960s in Cornwall. She has also written 32 Regencies. You can read more about Carola at her blog and websiteToday Carola talks about killers and how they come in all shapes and sizes. Carola is also offering a copy of Requiem for a Mezzo to one lucky reader who posts a comment to the blog this week. -- AP

Killers come in all shapes and sizes. Having just finished writing the 20th mystery in my Daisy Dalrymple series, I'm constantly looking for new variations.

For a start, I prefer the word "killer" to "murderer." Not all homicides are murder. Some of the unnatural deaths in my books involve assault not intended to cause death, accident, self-defence, or defence of others. This allows some of my killers to be sympathetic characters. In turn this allows Daisy to hold—and act on—a different view of Justice from that of her husband, DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, who's sworn to uphold the Law.

They haven't yet quite reached the point where they want to kill each other! 

Of course, some of my killer characters commit deliberate murder. Their motives ring the changes on the basics: greed, jealousy, fear, revenge, anger. They are male and female, young and old, rich and poor. Some are crafty (pun intended); some are not too bright and are not arrested immediately more through luck than cleverness. They are otherwise pleasant people who would probably never kill again if they weren't caught, and unpleasant people who are a danger to society.

But however desperate for new twists, I don't create homicidal maniacs. I'm just not really interested in someone who kills for pleasure, or from an irresistible impulse to kill. I prefer to explore the motive(s) of a person who feels he or she has a compelling reason that we can understand, even if we can't imagine ever taking it to the lengths of murder. 

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Carola! Readers, if you'd like a chance to win Requiem for a Mezzo, leave a comment, and be sure to check back on Sunday to see if you're the lucky winner. -- AP


Pat Dale said...

I appreciate your explanation of the differences between 'killer' and 'murderer'. Writing about killers is a fascinating and thought-provoking endeavour, is it not? For some reason, I especially enjoy stories on this subject from the U.K., perhaps because they often involve folks who hadn't planned or plotted to kill anyone. I dare say, these (yours) would be the books one could read and go to bed without fear of nightmares; the 'anti-Stephen King' kind of mystery. LOL
Thanks, Lois, for sharing Carola's words with us. Cheers,
Pat Dale

Betty Gordon said...

I enjoyed the interview and agree with the premise of not writing about homicidal maniacs. Sometimes there is a thin line. A "compelling reason" can be understood while not condoning it.
Thanks again.
Betty Gordon

Anonymous said...

Reading about any part of the thought process and feelings of a writer is almost as good as reading one of their books. The way you descirbe a 'killer' is probably the way many of my favorite authors feel about them i ntheir books too.

Thanks for giving some insite.

Nancy Bradford

Anonymous said...

I like the Daisy Dalrymple series precisely because the murders are not always "cut and dried." This makes the turn of events more interesting and natural.
Connie Sabo

Jean Henry Mead said...

A thought provoking article, Carola. I look forward to reading another Daisy Dalrymple book.

Anonymous said...

I have read most of the Daisy Dalrymple series and enjoy them very much. I am pleased that we will be getting another one to read with great pleasure. I love the characters, the setting and the writing.

Helen Kiker

Carol said...

Interesting comments. I look forward to reading REQUIEM FOR A MEZZO.

CJ Clark said...

I'd like to get acquainted with Daisy Dalrymple.

Eileen said...

This is one of the reasons I'm so fond of your books. As a reader, feeling a kind of compassion--or at least a grudging understanding--of a killer and/or his motives makes a book more interesting and gives it a lot of layers.

I like the Killer / Murderer statement. I think it's an excellent way to describe part of what makes an 'old fashioned' or a Golden Age mystery appealing.

Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

I agree. homicidal maniacs are, I'm afraid, rather boring to me. I'd rather read about someone a bit more convoluted and complex, yet ordinary, if that makes any sense. Please put my name in the hat for the book drawing.

The Cat From Hell said...

I have read one of Carola Dunn's books and I loved it so much, I lent it to a friend, she loved it and passed it along and then I could NOT, for the life of me, remember her name! Thanks for this interview! Now I can go to the bookstore the next time I'm in the city and look for more.
Thank you! Thank you! thank you!

Julie Godfrey Miller said...

I'm glad to hear Daisy's not going to be confronting any drooling, wild-eyed, ax-carrying psychos.
Thanks for the discussion of killers/murderers.

Loni Emmert said...

Love these covers so much, they pull me into the story before I begin page one. Can't wait for the next adventure.

Anne K. Albert said...

Hi Carola, I've just finished reading Manna From Hades, and am currently reading A Colourful Death. Your Daisy series is next!

I also like your comment re killer/murderer. Food for thought. Thank you.


I want to thank Carola Dunn for being our Book Club Friday guest today. For those of you who posted comments, don't forget to check back Sunday to see if you've won a copy of Requiem for a Mezzo. For those of you who haven't commented yet, there's still plenty of time to do so and be eligible for the drawing.

Alan B. said...

I enjoy the Daisy Dalrymple books because they're a good mix of cosy English crime, humour and serious issues. The writing is "authentic" for the period!

Anonymous said...

I'm happily re-reading Styx and Stones right now. Can't wait for the next Daisy book or the next Cornish Mystery.

Librarian D.O.A. said...

So Killing is usually a crime of passion or Of the Moment, and Murder has intent, and is plotted, planned and carried out?

Killing is a response and Murder comes from deep within the murderer?

Thanks for sharing how you plan the demise of your characters!


Carola is having some trouble posting a comment today. She asked me to post the following for her:

From Carola:

Thanks to everyone for great comments!

Librarian DOA--It's not as clear-cut as that. I think, at least in
British/American Common Law, motive is generally taken into account when
it comes to sentencing, which is up to the judge. Of course, to work
backwards, the jury decides on guilt or innocence, and the public
prosecutor doesn't want to bring a charge that's likely to result in an
innocent verdict. Before that, you have the Coroner and his jury, who
decide whether there's a case to answer.

As far as Alec--the police officer--is concerned, if someone is killed by
someone else, that's homicide. Intent is more or less irrelevant as it's
not up to him to decide whether the killing amounts to murder,
manslaughter, self-defence, or accident. In the case of an obvious
accident, he might decide the evidence doesn't justify applying for a
warrant (he can only arrest without one if he actually sees a crime

It's where Daisy comes in--remembering that she's a purely fictional
character--that the grey areas widen and diffuse. At times, she's
prepared to back her own judgment and conceal information from the police
in what she perceives to be the cause of Justice.

And that's one of the things that makes it fun to write.

Mollie Cox Bryan said...

Posting belatedly here, but I have to say what a thoughtful piece. I've never read these books, but I'm off to find some now. What gorgeous covers. So evocative.

rleon said...

Killer or murderer. I like that description which explains why I prefer "cozy" mysteries to the thrillers my husband reads. I promptly buy every Daisy book as soon as it hits the bookstore. And reread them often. I have a great imagination and get nightmares easily. At least, when I finish a book with Daisy in it I don't have wake at some unusual noise in the night thinking that an ax murderer is breaking in! I love all the regular characters and often reread a book just to enjoy the interplay between them after I know how the mystery comes out.